This Photo Series Brings Rape Culture To Life In Response To The Stanford Rape Case
Last month, Brock Turner was charged with the rape of an unconscious woman behind a dumpster and sentenced to just six months of county jail time and three years of probation to avoid prison having “a severe impact on him.” Many, from Vice President Joe Biden to actor Channing Tatum, offered passionate responses to this injustice, pointing out how it dangerously undermined consent and victims, and sent the message that rape isn’t a serious, terrible crime. But one powerful response to the Stanford rape case is a photo series exposing how Turner, his father, and his sympathizers used the sort of victim-blaming rhetoric that gives rapists a pass for their disgusting behavior and unfairly shifts the responsibility to the women they violate.
The photo series was produced and compiled by photographer Yana Mazurkevich for Current Solutions, a social impact project meant to offer individuals a platform to share their opinions and experiences on all things related to sexual assault and domestic abuse.
“In light of the Brock Turner case, we are featuring an artist that sheds light on sexual assault and intimate partner violence. We received a compilation of photos of women representing victim-blaming statements like those made by Brock Turner and his father in court,” Current Solutions writes in the album’s description on their Facebook page.
Turner’s father deservedly took heat for dismissing his son’s crime as “20 minutes of action,” suggesting the minimal sentence that many have argued is too light was actually too severe, and ultimately drawing no distinction between 20 minutes of consensual action and rape. But for his own part, Turner did not take responsibility for his actions, either, blaming his actions on “peer pressure, drinking, and promiscuity.” It’s pretty clear that “peer pressure” didn’t force Turner to do anything and increased acceptance of societal “promiscuity” isn’t even a little relevant to his actions.
But for anyone who might have given Turner a pass for doing something stupid and terrible, thinking, “Hey, doesn’t alcohol do that to everyone,” his victim offered a fiery response in her letter to him:
“Regretting drinking is not the same as regretting sexual assault. We were both drunk, the difference is I did not take off your pants and underwear, touch you inappropriately, and run away. That’s the difference.”
The photos shared by Current Solutions portray vulnerable young women in states of undress carrying signs with common lines used to dismiss and dehumanize victims of rape, and absolve their attackers of responsibility. Each photo is captioned either with hard-hitting lines from the letter Turner’s victim wrote to him or disgusting quotes from Turner himself for additional context.
Here are some of the photos:
What a victim was wearing and whether or not they were flirtatious and seemingly “asking for it” are often cited as evidence to either blame the victim or cast doubt as to whether or not they’re telling the truth. This photo was captioned with a quote from the letter written by Turner’s victim: “If she is wearing a cardigan over her dress don’t take it off so that you can touch her breasts. Maybe she is cold, maybe that’s why she wore the cardigan.”
Initiatives involving self-defense lessons for women to combat the prevalence of rape on college campuses inspired controversy last year among those who pointed out that this put the responsibility of preventing rape solely on women rather than teaching men to respect consent. The photo was captioned with this striking line from the victim’s letter, which reminds us that the inability to defend oneself isn’t an invitation:
“You were wrong for doing what nobody else was doing, which was pushing your erect dick in your pants against my naked, defenseless body concealed in a dark area, where partygoers could no longer see or protect me, and my own sister could not find me.”
This photo is captioned with this quote from the victim’s letter: “If she is too drunk to even walk and falls down, do not mount her, hump her, take off her underwear, and insert your hand inside her vagina.”
The photo series, which can be viewed in full, here, is an important reminder to teenagers who are, surprisingly and disappointingly, more likely to view victims of sexual assault as partially responsible for their experiences if they were “drinking, flirting, or taking drugs” prior to being raped, according to The Telegraph. In this sense, perhaps there’s some comfort to be had in the outrage inspired by one woman’s awful experiences being used for something that is clearly very, very needed.